If you’re one of the few people who has neither read nor seen the Harry Potter series, let me briefly sum up the mystery of Tom Riddle’s diary, as featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. After all of his books are doused with ink, Harry notices that Riddle’s diary is spotless. He tests this phenomenon by writing “My name is Harry Potter” — and the diary absorbs the ink and writes in reply, “Hello Harry Potter. My name is Tom Riddle. How did you come by my diary?”
Naturally, Harry continues talking with Tom Riddle, and asks if Riddle knew anything about the Chamber of Secrets opening before. Riddle offers to show him what he knows, and sucks Harry into the diary. Harry is able to observe Riddle’s memories as if he were a ghost — no one can see or hear him, and he can’t affect anything.
Spoiler alert: this is all possible because the book contains a piece of Voldemort’s soul.
Now, the books in Narrator don’t contain people’s souls. Don’t get me wrong, souls are involved. It’s just not a requirement for the book magic to exist.
Arianna’s conversation with the Author is similar to Harry’s with Tom Riddle, with a few key differences. Riddle is able to write his own words, but the Author must use Arianna. He is able to compel her to write his half of the conversation, and in such a way that she cannot stop mid-sentence, even if she wanted to. The Author could communicate with her through any written method, but he has his reasons for choosing to use her diary.
This is different from earlier drafts, where I had her talk to him in person. There was a point in the forest where the world just sort of…stopped, like a cliff’s edge. And when the book was open she could speak to the Author. But I wasn’t thrilled with that dynamic, so I came up with the idea that the Author is able to communicate with Arianna through her diary, similar to how an author’s characters can surprise her as she writes by saying things she never would have expected.
That might sound weird to non-authors, but trust me. That sort of thing happens all the time.
As for traveling into books, when my characters get pulled into a book, they become part of the “story.” It doesn’t matter if the book is fiction, non-fiction, or a diary. They can interact with the book characters, and even change the course of the story — to a certain extent.
For example, if Calder went into Chamber of Secrets he would no doubt help Harry solve the mystery of the Chamber. The final battle might even go differently. But it would still be Harry who killed the basilisk and destroyed the horcrux.
Fate can be defied, but at a heavy price.
Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.